Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Several Cases Like This

The spokesperson for the Utah Attorney General's office, Paul Murphy, was interviewed today regarding Jonathan Turley's (VERY ENTERTAINING) lawsuit on behalf of the Kody Brown family.  Murphy was heard to say approximately the following:

"There have been several cases like this brought before the courts in Utah, and the courts have consistently ruled that the State has the right to regulate marriage and to ban bigamy.  The only thing different about this case is that the plaintiffs are on TV."

My gosh, Murphy must be almost as confused as his boss, Shurtleff, who opined yesterday that Turley's lawsuit is a mere P.R. "stunt" designed to promote the TLC series.

First - publicity stunt or not, this case profoundly impacts the lives of 38,000 fundamentalist Mormons (many of whose lives have been ruined by decades of cruel anti-polygamy crusades) and of tens of thousands of non-"Mormon" polygamists.  Turley has said that he will pursue this cause for as long as it takes (and pro bono by the way).  There are likely several other attorneys who are equally dedicated and who have devoted their lives to this cause. Snortleff can scoff at this effort, but his scoffing will have to end at some point.

Secondly, the court cases which preceded this one are (list not exhaustive):

     Potter v. Murray City
     State v. Green
     State v. Holm
     Bronson v. Swensen

Potter should have won. The court said that, as long as the people of the state of Utah were content to leave the Irrevocable (anti-polygamy) clause in the state constitution (despite its unconstitutionality), Potter's plural relationships could be criminalized.  If this case had occurred after Lawrence, Roy Potter would still be a police officer.

In State v. Green, Tom Green had the disadvantage of an attorney who briefed the case somewhat insufficiently, and Green had impregnated a 13-year-old.  The subsequent Holm case was stronger, but Holm had a wife who was 16.  The state told the Supreme Court that it should not take the Holm case because Utah categorically does not prosecute consenting adult polygamists (a LIE because Utah prosecuted Mark Easterday in 1999).  If Utah does not prosecute consenting adults, why then does Shurtleff not terminate the criminal bigamy investigation of the Browns ??? - (because that would be an admission that the stupid bigamy statute is unenforceable and needs to be repealed).  Utah charged Holm with ADULT BIGAMY (there was no child bigamy law at the time of his arrest).  Utah's supreme court chief justice, Christine Durham argued vigorously that Holm should be acquitted.

The Bronson v. Swensen case involved no criminal defendants.  It was a federal lawsuit challenging Utah's refusal to grant a polygamous trio a second marriage license. The case filed today has little in common with these other cases aside from the fact that each complained bitterly that Utah must stop persecuting an unpopular minority culture.  If these cases are all just a same-song broken record, then the message to us must be - "This is Utah, don't look for constitutional protections here!"  The case filed today is the culmination of generations of preceding pleadings.  The case today is the natural descendant of Griswold, Eisenstadt, Roe, Yoder, Lukumi, Romer, and Lawrence.  This case has no defects.  The plaintiffs cannot be painted with traditional anti-polygamy generalizations. If it were not to be the Browns, there would be dozens of other suitable, willing families. The only flaw in this case is that Murphy, DuPaix, Shurtleff, Herbert and Monson don't want it to succeed, so they are already spouting the deflecting smoke-screen stuff.

Thirdly, Utah DOES have the authority to "regulate" marriage.  It just does not have the authority to regulate any more of the Brown family's marriage than that contracted by Kody and Meri.  It may not regulate whether Kody may kiss Christine or hug Janelle or make a new baby with Robyn.  That would be an overreaching of authority (one of Snortliff's favorite pastimes).

Fourthly, Utah DOES have the authority to ban bigamy (all states do).  Kody Brown does not commit bigamy.  He only has one wife.  The other three ladies are life-partners.  Kody pretends that they are wives (and so do they).  They even use the term "wife".  To outlaw the family's use of the word, "wife", would be a gross violation of the free speech clause of the First Amendment.  A state supreme court ruled last month that governments may not prohibit (even) the (public) utterance of specific words.

The long-awaited day has finally arrived when we can have an intelligent dialogue (in a U.S. court) about this last great civil-rights battle.  I encourage you public officials to get on the right side of it, lest you risk appearing like bigots, desperately defending a pathetic, 19th-century relic of early American barbarism.

Plus, Mr.(short-memory) Murphy, Tom Green was all over the TV.

Think before you spokes-speak next time!


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